Saturday, January 29, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday – OK, Saturday 1/29/2011


I ended up with a migraine last night, so 7 Quick Takes is a little late today.  Just pretend that it’s Friday to humor me.

1. The kids and I got new cell phones this week.  We all three now have slide-out or flip-up keyboards to make texting easier.  (Before this, Rosie Girl had a slide-out keyboard.  PWM still has a Blackberry.)  Texting can be so much more convenient at times, so I’m happy about my phone.  It also came with earbuds and and clip on microphone so I can use it hands-free in the car – which is important since talking on a cell phone that you’re holding while driving is illegal in our county.

2. Here are pictures of my latest knitting projects.  They are for my cousins, so I’ll hopefully get them mailed on Monday.  As you can see, I’ve really gotten into color work.  The mittens are from a kit by Knit Picks.  The gloves are a generic glove pattern that I put the design on.

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3. Wild Man is learning about Russia, so we watched Fiddler on the Roof last night.  I cried.

4. Our Wii quit working last week.  PWM did some research, bought the parts, and is now fixing it.  Despite having a Wii-less week, the children seem to have survived.  Nice to know they can live without their game system.

5. The more I learn about knitting, the more I realize I need to learn!  I bought a kit for making a Fair Isle (stranded knitting) sweater.  I read the directions last night in detail.  Wow.  It’s going to be an adventure!!

6. Speaking of adventures, PWM has learned to knit!  He’s got down knitting, purling, and basic increasing and decreasing.  He’s also hoping to learn Tunisian crochet – which I also want to learn, but I have too many projects currently on the needles to do it now.

7. And yet more knitting stuff – I’ve been making my own patterns for wrist warmers.  I’ve got a couple that are about done and I’ll post pictures after I block them.  I’m going to put these for sale up at our local coffee shop.  (I haven’t ever sold my knitting because I’ve been working from other people’s patterns and I’ve also been working on gifts most of the time!)

So, how was your week?  Check out 7 Quick Takes Friday to see what others have been up to!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ups And Downs

It’s been one of those days!

  • I woke up at 4:45am with a migraine.  I got up, took my meds, and went back to bed.
  • PWM woke me up at 9am.  I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth and then dropped my glasses into the toilet.
  • PWM, Wild Man, and I went for a wrap-up meeting with the optometrist about Wild Man’s vision therapy.  He’s improved in many areas since he started therapy.  In particular, he scored in the 5th percentile on one test before therapy and is now scoring at the 50th percentile.  Most importantly, though, PWM and I have seen improvement in his schoolwork.
  • Since my migraine has been so persistent, Wild Man watched a movie about Russian wildlife today.
  • I’m vacillating between elation and terror at the prospect of a yarn shop!
  • We got an email from a friend who said that she and another woman had considered opening a yarn shop a couple of years ago in a nearby town.  Their plans changed, but she sent me the documents that they had made up when they were planning their shop.  Yes!
  • I finished listening to Slumdog Millionaire (originally Q&A).  Excellent book!  I’ve ordered the DVD from Netflix.
  • I’m working on a pair of wrist warmers that I designed myself.  Pretty fun!

I’ve been on something of a roller coaster today.  And I’m praying tomorrow is a little more even-keeled.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Go Packers!


Since 1997, our family has been Packer fans, so I am watching the Packers play the Bears for the NFC Championship. 

In the winter of 1996/1997, I signed a contract to practice medicine in central Wisconsin.  We knew from our visit up here that the community up here bleeds green and gold, so we became Packer fans.  In January of 1997, PWM and I went to a Super Bowl party at a friend’s house and watched the Packers defeat the New England Patriots.  Our friends were highly amused when we showed up with a “cheesehead”.  Of course, we couldn’t find one in Kentucky to purchase, so we made one out of cardboard and yellow construction paper.  It wasn’t too far into the game that the camera found someone with a foam cheesehead and we were vindicated!


One day at the dentist office, Fuzzy Thurston, a former Packer, was also in the office.  He stopped and chatted with Wild Man and then gave Wild Man one of his football cards and signed it!  What was funny was that we didn’t know who Fuzzy Thurston was at the time.  The dentist’s staff, all locals, enlightened us.

It may be obscenely cold up here but we have our Packers!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Our Week In Review – 1/22/2011


It’s been a COOOOOOLD week here in the Great White North!  But, being homeschoolers, that doesn’t affect our school plans!  (OK, it didn’t really affect the public schooled kids either.)

Rosie Girl

It was finals week at the high school this week, so Rosie Girl only had Art class one day.  The Art teacher doesn’t give a final exam, so they watched a video about the history of animation.  Rosie Girl was not impressed.  Oh well.

This was the first week of Rosie Girl’s Research Paper workshop through Write At Home.  She’s decided to write about the history of anime and manga.

Rosie Girl is more than 70% through her Geometry course.  It would be nice if she could go ahead and start Algebra 2 this year so she could finish all her Math credits before her senior year.

Chemistry is going much better, but I am going to start having Rosie Girl turn in her assignment on Thursday because she ends up not finishing on Friday and needing help on Saturday.

Wild Man

Vision Therapy is all done!!  Wild Man had his last session on Monday and PWM and I meet with the doctor next Tuesday for his wrap-up.

Wild Man is making phenomenal progress in Math – and he’s learning from the ALEKS program and only having to have PWM explain a few items.

I’m continually impressed with Wild Man’s reading progress.  He read some of his History book to me this week.  Last night, he read from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows because PWM has a cold.

We actually did Science this week!!  Wild Man and I are reading Food and Nutrition for Every Kid.  We haven’t done any activities yet, but we probably will.

I found the Spelling folder so now we have all of our materials to do Spelling lessons!  That doesn’t mean that we’ve actually DONE any Spelling, but now we can!

That was our week – not too exciting, but everyone is learning.  Check out Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers to see what others have been up to.

Friday, January 21, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday – 1/21/2011


1. PWM turned 44 last week!!  For his birthday, his mom is taking our entire family to Universal Studios and the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando!!  We got all the reservations made this week – we’ll be going in March.  We’re all very excited! 


2. Since we’re going to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we’re now reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows together at night.

3. PWM and I both have colds.  It’s bad enough to be sick, but when we’re both sick, there’s no one around to “baby” us!  Yeah, we’re pretty pathetic.

4. Because PWM and I have colds and it’s hard for us to read aloud, Wild Man read about half a chapter tonight.  Yes!!  My dyslexic child is reading!!  Out loud!!  To the family!!  (And I may have a little addiction to exclamation points.)

5. We’ve been tossing around possible names for our yarn shop.  The kids have voted down (loudly) both “The Loopy Bin” and “The Knit Wit House”.  I wonder why?

6. I have lunch every week with a friend and we’ve decided to read through a book together.  We’ve chosen Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges.  I’m really looking forward to some good discussion time each week.

7. I’m just about done with the Fair Isle mittens I’m working on.  I’m very pleased with the outcome, but I think I’ll invest in a cable needle if I do mittens again because I’m having trouble keeping the tension right between the three double points. 

That’s what’s up around here.  Check out 7 Quick Takes Friday to see what others have to say this week.

Dreaming . . . and planning

I love to knit.  Something I love almost as much as knitting is yarn shops.  I just can’t get enough of yarn shops.  I love the smell and feel of the yarn.  I like to compare kinds and colors.  I enjoy planning my next set of knitting projects.  And I love knitting needles.  And notions – row counters, markers, etc.  Yeah.  Pretty much the whole yarn/knitting thing.

In the last few years I’ve dreamed about owning a yarn shop.  I would love to spend my days playing with yarn, knitting, teaching others to knit, etc.

So, PWM and I are moving from the dreaming phase to the planning phase.  PWM crochets and is learning to knit since I can’t be counted on to not have migraines ;-)  Not only that, he has more of the entrepreneurial spirit than I have.  And he enjoys yarn – although he’s not obsessed about it like I am.  Both kids also think it’s a pretty cool idea, even though we told them that the plan would be to buy a downtown building and live in part and make a shop out of the other part. 

So far, we’ve ordered a booklet from The National NeedleArts Association.  And we’ve made a bunch of lists.  We’re not in a big hurry.

Pray for us!  And come buy yarn from us – one of these days.


The English language is a funny thing.  I’ve often wondered why the word “malign” is a verb, and “malignant” is an adjective, but “benign” is an adjective.  And, until recently, I had never come across the word “benignant”.  In the course of a week, though, I have read “benignant” (an adjective) in Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and The Children by Edith Wharton.  Curious.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Works For Me Wednesday – Homeschool Chemistry – 1/19/2011


If you are one of the 5 regular readers of this blog, you may recall that high school Chemistry was NOT working for Rosie Girl.  The good news is that I found something that does work!!  We started using Singapore Chemistry because things had gone so well last year with Singapore Biology.  Alas, the Chemistry course is more difficult to use at home than was the Biology course.  The textbook wasn’t terribly hard to understand.  The biggest problem was that questions in the textbook and workbook required more information than was given in the text, apparently because it was intended to be used in a classroom situation where the information would be presented.  This caused endless frustration for both Rosie Girl and me.  Sometimes I would be able to supply the required information, but at other times, I was also flummoxed.

Enter An Introduction to Chemistry by Mark Bishop.  This is an online textbook that PWM has used when tutoring high school students who had trouble with Chemistry.  The textbook is completely online.  It comes in two formats: Chemistry First and Atoms First.  From the website - “The chemistry-first version has a early emphasis on descriptions of the structure of matter and the nature of chemical changes, postponing the description of unit conversions and chemical calculations. The new atoms-first version provides a more complete description of atomic theory, chemical bonding, and chemical calculations early.”  Both texts cover the same material, just in different orders.

The textbook is supported by animations, tutorials, and glossary quizzes, and chapter maps to help the student.  Within the text are numerous examples of how the principles being learned are used in real life.  There are tons of questions at the end of each chapter and complete explanations of the answers are given in the study guide.  There are Power Point presentations accompanied by the book in audio format.  The author requests a donation of $20 if you choose to use his site – and it’s well worth far more than that.

Rosie Girl had just finished acids and bases in Singapore, so I had her start this book in Chapter 5 of the Chemistry-First version.  So far, things are going quite well.  Rosie Girl doesn’t really like reading from the screen, so she prints out sections of the text to take with her to read in the car, etc.  She has used some of the animations with success.  I love that I can get the answers to the questions from the study guide.  If I’m having a bad headache and it’s hard to think through things, all the information is online.  Overall, we’ve been very happy with using this textbook as the basis of her Chemistry course.  (She has a separate lab course.)

If you are trying to decide what curriculum to use for high school Chemistry, I strongly recommend that you look into this one.

That’s what “Works for Me” today.  Check out Works for Me Wednesday for other great ideas!



Psalm 51

For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
   according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
   blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
   and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,
   and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
   and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
   and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
   sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
   you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
   wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
   let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
   and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
   and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
   or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
   and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
   so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
   you who are God my Savior,
   and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
   and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
   you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is[b] a broken spirit;
   a broken and contrite heart
   you, God, will not despise.

18 May it please you to prosper Zion,
   to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
   in burnt offerings offered whole;
   then bulls will be offered on your altar.


This is truly one of my favorite psalms.  That may sound strange because it’s David’s song of repentance after he committed adultery with Bathsheba and then murdered her husband.  Real stand-up kind of guy, huh?  Yes, he was called “a man after God’s own heart”.  Clearly, if David can be forgiven his sin, I can be forgiven as well.  I love the hope that I get from reading this.

From the beginning of the psalm, David makes no bones about his sinfulness. He confesses that he has sinned against God and God alone.  But, he knows the heart of God.  In verse 10, he asks (expectantly, it appears) for God to forgive him and give him a clean heart.  He goes on to say that he will teach other sinners to follow God and that he will continue to praise God.  And he ends by saying that he knows that the sacrifice God wants from us are “a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart” before the traditional burnt offerings.

When I read this, I think of Martin Luther’s admonition to “sin bravely”.  Luther wasn’t telling us to go out and sin, but rather to expect that we would sin and that no matter what the sin, God’s grace is greater.  Luther was also acknowledging that we can do nothing good without the power of God – and His power is great enough to cover any and all of our sin.

This is not to deny the importance of our perseverance toward holiness.  Rather, we can know ourselves and that our human nature wants to sin.  Then, we can come back over and over (albeit less often as time goes by, I would hope) in repentance to God and for more renewal in His love.

Let us go forward living a life of repentance and praising God for his awesome grace!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Evangelicalism and “Decisionism”

A few months ago, I came across the term “decisionism” on The Boar’s Head Tavern group blog and I thought it fit the emphasis of the Evangelicalism of my youth.  While reading In the Land of Believers (by Gina Welch), I thought again about this term (although it’s not used in the book).    (BTW, I’m not referring to the legal term “decisionism”.)Among the Evangelicals of my growing up (and still among many, I’ve realized) is an emphasis on “making a decision for Christ.”  I will definitely agree that a person is not a Christian without some conscious choice to become so – it’s not an inherited condition or something that you can just drift into.

I grew up learning that the way to become a Christian was to pray the Sinner’s Prayer.  You won’t find the Sinner’s Prayer anywhere in the Bible, but it is a reasonable distillation of what Jesus and Paul both taught about belief.  (Although I still wonder about the phrase “asking Jesus into your heart” – I’m not really fond of that one – but that’s a topic for another day.)  We run into trouble, though, when we focus on the Sinner’s Prayer and nothing else.  There are those who would believe that no person of a denomination that doesn’t encourage and/or teach that one must pray the Sinner’s Prayer can actually be saved.

I remember being told that a person must not be a Christian if they can’t remember the exact moment of their conversion.  In fact, I was so concerned about this very thing, that I prayed the Sinner’s Prayer at least a hundred times alone in my bedroom between the ages of 10 and 17.  I went forward in church and was baptized when I was ten years old.  I think it’s entirely possible that God considered me a Christian before that because I understood and accepted the truth of the Gospel for as long as I can remember (at least, at the level I was able, given the stage of development).  But, between the ages 10 and 17, I frequently became concerned that the first time I prayed to receive Christ, it didn’t “take”.  Why did I believe this?  Mostly because I didn’t “feel” saved or different.  I heard that I should be able to identify the moment my life changed because of Jesus, and I really couldn’t.

At age 17, I went forward again in church and was baptized – again.  I was taking an Evangelism class and I didn’t think that I had been a “growing” Christian in the seven years since my first baptism.  I didn’t carry my Bible with me to school like the really “holy” students.  I didn’t strongly desire to read the Bible and pray.  Clearly, my first conversion experience must not have been genuine!

Looking back, it’s pretty clear to me that the emphasis on the “decision” led me to believe that I didn’t really have a relationship with Jesus.  Now that I’m older and have experienced more of life, I think my years between the ages of 10 and 17 were pretty much like everyone else’s: I was physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually growing.  But, because I was so concerned that I had to “feel” saved, to “know” the instant of my salvation, I was sure that I really wasn’t a Christian.

There are a number of problems with “decisionism” – the focus on making (and feeling) a decision for Christ.

  1. The developmental stage of children significantly affects their ability to understand the Gospel.  A 4 or 5 year old may have no trouble with it because they are still in a stage of “magical thinking” and they can equate Jesus and magic without any trouble.  By the time the same child reaches age 10-12, the concept is more problematic because they are now very concrete thinkers.  I don’t think this means that we shouldn’t teach our children about Jesus.  PWM and I have been very careful to make sure that our children are growing up in a household where faith is a big deal.  Rather, we shouldn’t push kids to make a decision.  As Christian parents, we can’t leave the spiritual upbringing of our children completely to the church.  Instead, we need to be involved with our kids and make sure that they have as much understanding as they are able and that we don’t push them to baptism until they can really understand it.
  2. Decisionism” altar calls play to our emotions.  The soft music, the voice of the pastor, everyone with closed eyes.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the moment.  Jesus tells us, though, to “count the cost” and to daily “take up our cross” (Matthew 10:28, John 15).  We don’t need to “help” the Holy Spirit; He will call those whom He is going to call.   
  3. Decisionism” make it very easy to have an “in” group and an “out” group.  We who have prayed the Sinner’s Prayer are “in”; everyone else is “out”.  So now it’s very easy to see ourselves as superior, better, or more spiritual than those who are “out”.  It can stifle useful dialogue with other Christians when we see them as “out”. 
  4. Decisionism” focuses so much on the decision for Christ and salvation, that discipleship and spiritual growth get short shrift.  When our big goal is to get people to pray the prayer and get dunked, but we neglect the follow-up, we are not carrying out the Great Commission.  Jesus tells us to “make disciples” – this involves living life with people who are new to Christianity, helping them to learn to study the Bible, and praying with and for them.
  5. “Decisionsim” makes our faith one-dimensional.  We can become “so heavenly minded that we’re no earthly good”.  Jesus generally met people’s physical needs in addition to their spiritual needs.  He fed and healed people and then taught them.  Evangelicals are getting better at trying to reach out to people on more than one level – and this is a good thing.  Christianity is multi-dimensional – and we need to reach out to our communities with more than just a list of Bible verses.
  6. Decisionism” borders on salvation by works.  It says that, once a person has heard the words of the Gospel, he must make a decision for Jesus; thus, a person’s salvation is effected by his or her own “works” (in this case, work of the mind).  This leaves out the role of the Holy Spirit.  God calls us to Him.  He, in the form of Jesus, paid the penalty for our sins.  He sustains a Christian in his or her faith.  There is nothing that happens outside of the will of God.  Yes, I realize that this brings up the tension between Calvinism and Arminianism.  I believe that the truth lies somewhere in between the two extremes.  God calls us to Him and we must respond.  Both have to happen. 

As Christians, we need to avoid getting caught up in “decisionism”.  As individuals, it’s important to continue our spiritual growth through the disciplines of Bible reading, prayer, meditation, and service.  Groups of believers (church and denominations) need to worry less about “decisions” and more about truly serving people.  People are not to be “notches on our belt of Christianity” but bearers of the image of God who need to hear and feel His love.  The truth of the Gospel must come through the megaphone of serving people and God.  Unbelievers are more likely to be drawn to our faith when it’s clear that our faith is making a difference in our lives, individually and collectively.  Yes, it is important to help people to come to the moment of belief, but this will happen when the Holy Spirit works on a person’s heart and need not necessarily come in the form of the Sinner’s Prayer.



Saturday, January 15, 2011

Our Week In Review – 1/15/2011

And another school week is behind us.  The rest of the country may be snowed in, but, while it’s white outside here in the Great White North, we are pretty used to it, so life goes on!  Here’s the scoop:

Rosie Girl

The big excitement in Rosie Girl’s life this week was getting her temps (temporary driver’s license)!  She doesn’t start class for a few weeks, but she did go driving last week in the high school parking lot with PWM.

The Write At Home research paper workshop started this week.  Rosie Girl is predisposed to dislike it because it’s not creative writing, but I’ve been impressed with their courses and I’m sure she’ll survive.

I mentioned last week that we finally bailed on Singapore Chemistry.  Rosie Girl seems to be pretty content with the online textbook.

Wild Man

Wild Man is learning about Mongolia and Genghis Khan.  I think we’re supposed to start Russia next week, but we’re still a bit behind.

We’d be moving forward in spelling if I could find the spelling folder that includes important things like word banks and the silent “e” booklet!  I know exactly what the folder looks like, but I can’t find it!

Wild Man told me that he had a better than usual time at the Nutrition Site because he got to do something beside pack up bread.  In any case, I’m glad that he’s learning to work.

I had a bad migraine on Thursday, but I’m very glad that Wild Man is reading well enough that he can do a lot of his own work without me.

Not a terribly exciting week, but that’s how it goes sometimes.  Check out Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers to see what others have been doing this week.

Friday, January 14, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday – 1/14/2011


1. Both of my kids drink coffee.  As does PWM.  I only drink coffee when I have a migraine and, even then, it has to be “doctored up” with chocolate, sugar, and cream.  When I was a kid, I would have never thought of drinking coffee – of course, my mom always had hers black.  My kids have both taken to coffee in the last year or so.  PWM has some Cajun background and used to get coffee-milk at his grandmother’s house, but didn’t have it regularly at home.  My college roommate drank coffee-milk while growing up and transitioned to coffee in college.  Anyway, both my kids have taken to coffee recently.  I actually like Wild Man to have some before we do spelling or grammar because it helps him concentrate.  He and Rosie Girl both enjoy getting some coffee (with or without chocolate) after they’ve been playing outside.

2. We’re having friends over tonight for dessert and games, and since one of them is allergic to cats, the main parts of our house are being de-cat-danderified as I speak.  We don’t have carpet in the living room or dining room, so it’s mostly the sofa that needs work.  I went ahead and put the cats downstairs a few hours ago and they’re already pretty ticked off at me.  They like having the run of the house!

3. My yarn came yesterday!!  Here are pictures and links of the two kits I got:


I’m making the hat and gloves for a cousin.  I’m making the sweater for myself, but I’m making the cardigan version.  I’m really, really excited!!

4. I’ve been using Scrapblog for digital scrapbooking, but I’ve decided that it’s time to get a program that I can use without having to be online.  Scrapblog has worked quite well for me, but I did lose a few pages once and it reminded me that I don’t have as much control as I’d like over the program.  I’ve tried Publisher in the past and found the learning curve far too steep!  I’ve been researching programs and have decided on My Memories.  I think I’ll have a nice weekend playing around with pictures and scrapbooking.

5. Wild Man is pretending that our dining room is a restaurant and he’s serving Grandma, who just got back from Florida today.  Very cute!

6. I’m listening to A Tree Grows In Brooklyn on audiobook.  This was one of my very favorite books when I was in high school.  Our copy was originally my paternal grandmother’s and has a plate in the front from “The Modern Reader’s Book Club of 1945”.  This grandmother died while before I was born.  The only things that I have from her are this book, some baby blankets, and some hand sewn baby vests.

7. I can hear the cats scratching at the basement door.  They are very ticked off at being stuck downstairs while all the people are upstairs!

Check out 7 Quick Takes Friday to see what others have been up to! 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Verse of the Month – 1/13/2011

Instead of doing New Year’s resolutions or a “Word for the Year”, I was going to do a verse or passage of scripture for the year.  However, a year is a really long time and things can change significantly over the course of twelve months.  I decided instead to do a verse of the month.  It will be either a verse from a section of the Bible that I’m studying or something that is particularly meaningful at that time.

Since I’ve been reading Psalms, I’ve chosen Psalm 16:11

You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at you right hand.” (NIV)

This verse is at the end of a psalm in which David is reminding himself and his audience about the goodness of God.  I’ve been having a rough couple of weeks with headaches and getting easily depressed, but this verse reminds me of God’s goodness.  It also reminds me that this life is temporary and ephemeral (I love that word); my “real” life is eternal with Jesus.

Did you make resolutions this year, or choose a word?  Do tell!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Lagniappe – 1/12/2011

  1. I’m watching Top Chef right now.  I enjoy watching reality shows for the competition, but am not always thrilled with all the interpersonal drama.  I like to watch the chefs on the cooking contest shows see how they can meet the challenge.  However, Top Chef has a lot more inappropriate language than some of the other shows I like. 
  2. I’ve taken to painting my nails regularly.  I’m not sure why, but I’m pretty sure my counselor will like it because I’m forced to just sit still for about 30 minutes while they dry.
  3. On the Christmas stockings that I made for me and PWM, I got to learn some easy Fair Isle knitting.  Sooooooo, I ordered a kit for making a hat and mittens (for my cousin’s daughter – I’m almost finished making a pair of gloves for her brother).  I also got a kit for making a Fair Isle sweater – I’m choosing to make the cardigan version.  It looks really intense, but I’m excited!
  4. My other current knitting project is some socks for Rosie Girl.  Unfortunately, they’re being made with size zero needles, so I can only do a few rows of the charting without serious eye strain!
  5. Now that I’ve got all these knitting projects in the works, I’ve also come across several books that I really want to read.  Too many books, too little time!
  6. I made some dressing (stuffing that doesn’t get put in the bird) for Christmas that was basically a savory bread pudding.  Today, I boiled down a chicken and pulled a loaf of bread out of the freezer, so I decided to make a chicken casserole/bread pudding for dinner.  And it was very good, even if it could have used some more spices.
  7. Wild Man read some of his history book about Genghis Khan to me today.  I know that he’s been reading for a good year or so, but it still makes me really excited to see how much progress he’s made.
  8. Almost all the Christmas decorations are put away.  The lights will stay up until Spring, but we have some other specifically Christmas items that need to be put back into the basement.

So, what’s up with you?  Anything exciting?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Psalms

I’ve had a rough week and a half.  My headaches have been worse than usual and I’ve also been very depressed.  I normally take an anti-depressant since having chronic pain really messes with my head.  For some reason, my mood went quickly downhill last week, and I was crying frequently and having a hard time getting anything done.  To try to improve my mood, I’ve increased my medications (after talking with my doctor) and been exercising more. 

I also started reading through the book of Psalms.  It is so encouraging to read that other have been down in the dumps and crying out to God.  For example, in Psalm 3, the author starts out by telling God his troubles and finishes with his confidence that God will deliver him.  Psalm 8 is a song of praise written by David.  Throughout the Psalms, I can see so many emotions and am reminded that I’m not the first one to have had mood swings or be depressed.  And I’m reminded that God is still there and listening to my crying out.

The next time you feel down or depressed, check out the Psalms for some encouragement.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Molly Weasley Is My Heroine!!

Wild Man and I have been listening to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix again on CD.  I LOVE the Harry Potter series for many, many reasons, not least of which is all the great characters created by J.K. Rowling.  Of all those characters, my absolute favorite must be Molly Weasley.  Mrs. Weasley manages a large family and home with grace.  Yet, she’s not “June Cleaver” – she’s much more down to earth.

I love Molly’s love and support for her husband.  She doesn’t understand his love of “muggle artifacts”, but supports his work at the Ministry of Magic.  She is never heard to reproach him about their modest standard of living.  When Arthur Weasley is seriously injured in Order of the Phoenix by a snake bite from Nagini (Voldemort’s snake), Molly goes immediately to his side at the hospital, stays with him until he’s more settled, and then visits frequently over the couple of days in the hospital.  Molly and Arthur are seen to disagree at times, but never to take pot shots at each other.

Molly loves her family.  She has six children and loves and cares for all of them.  In the series, it appears that Molly’s being at home with her children is by choice.  We see her cooking, doing laundry, cleaning, and generally managing her family’s affairs.  When one of the children gets out of line, she’s not afraid to pull them back into line, even sending a “howler” to Ron during his second year at Hogwarts.  In Order of the Phoenix and The Half-Blood Prince, Percy has rejected his family which leaves Molly devastated.  In the last book, when Percy changes his mind and comes back to his family (during the Battle of Hogwarts) his mother is one of the first to welcome him with loving arms.  In The Order of the Phoenix, Molly takes on a boggart, which changes into the thing of which she is most frightened.  The boggart takes on the form of her children as dead, one at a time.  The sight of her children dead, even though she knows it’s not real, is devastating to Molly Weasley.

When necessary, Molly fights for her family.  She’s an active part of the Order of the Phoenix, taking guard duty in turn with everyone else.  In the final battle scene, Molly screams at Bellatrix LeStrange to leave her children alone and then, pushing Ginny and Hermione away, she duels Bellatrix herself – and wins!

Hospitality is one of Molly Weasley’s strengths.  Not only does she act as a mother to Harry (and not just because he’s famous), but she seems to enjoy having extra people around the Burrow (her house).  In several of the books, Harry is shown spending part of the summer and/or Christmas with the Weasley family.  Molly hosts her son’s wedding, involving having lots of extra people staying over as well as the wedding and reception itself.  When someone needs a place to crash, Molly Weasley is happy to invite them to the Burrow.  In Order of the Phoenix, she provides meals for the Order as well as sprucing up Sirius’ house to make it a pleasant (as possible) place to live.

Molly knits!!  On top of everything else, Molly Weasley knits sweaters for her kids and Harry each Christmas.  Granted, she can use magic to knit, something I wouldn’t argue being able to do!  OK, her kids aren’t always thrilled with the final products, but that’s OK.  The fact that Molly knits for them shows how much she loves them.

If I could be any literary character, it would have to be Molly Weasley.  She’s not a perfect mom, but she’s a “real” mom (or at least as real as she can be given that she’s a character in a book).

So, what about you?  Who is your favorite Harry Potter character?  Or other literary character?

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Our Week In Review – 1/9/11 – Getting Back On Track Edition


This week was our first week of schoolwork since the Christmas break.  The kids got back into the swing of things very quickly and we had a good week.  Here are the highlights!

Wild Man

Learned about density in his science book.  I think we’ll spend a little time in the kitchen doing some density measuring this week.

Wild Man took a Math assessment in ALEKS and scored quite well.

We were finishing up China this week when I realized that we were actually supposed to be starting Mongolia.  Sigh.  This next week we’ll do Mongolia and only part of what we’re supposed to do on Russia and, hopefully, get completely caught up the next week.

I was thrilled with Wild Man’s Spelling progress.  He didn’t seem to have lost anything during break, although he still needs work with “ow” and “ou”.

Wild Man’s writing this week was thank-you notes for Christmas gifts.  I let him do them as emails, but it was still quite the effort for him.

Wild Man finished his reader before the break, so this week he has been reading books that were given to him for Christmas.  It’s so fun to watch him enjoy reading.  He’ll sit on the sofa, reading intently, and suddenly burst out laughing!

Vision Therapy is going well.  Wild Man now goes twice a week for therapy and his reading and math seem to gradually be improving.

Right before the break, Wild Man and PWM had their first belt test at TaeKwonDo and will get their yellow-tipped belts this week!  Yay!!

Wild Man went with our church youth group to the Ev Free Church District Youth Conference this weekend.  They left Friday afternoon and got back this afternoon.  He was in bed before 7pm tonight!

Rosie Girl

In History, Rosie Girl has been learning about the various denominations that sprang up after the Protestant Reformation.

Rosie Girl was behind in Literature before break, so we insisted that she finish Robinson Crusoe (on audio, at her request) and Going Solo (by Roald Dahl).  Since she read them simultaneously, she’s going to make her essay this week a compare and contrast essay about the two books.

In a few weeks, Rosie Girl will be starting Driver’s Education, which is required in our state to get a license before age 16.  She got her temps on Friday, so she can get her license in 6 months, but the classes start at the end of this month.  She’ll go every night for three weeks.

Rosie Girl is bummed that her tap class doesn’t start for another week or so and then she has to miss three weeks because of Drivers Ed. 

Chemistry finally did  us in this week.  Rosie Girl was learning about acids and bases and really understood the material.  However, PWM and I could neither one help her on some of the questions.  I’ve loved Singapore’s curriculum until now.  I think that there must be a fair amount of material that is covered in class because the book was missing information that was needed to solve some of the problems.   I came across and online Chemistry textbook with lots and lots of tutorials and study guides with explanations.  The author asks that you pay $20 if you end up using the text.  I told PWM about it and he told me that he’s already paid the money because he was using that site when he was tutoring Chemistry.  Not only that, but PWM agrees that it’s a good program.  Rosie Girl doesn’t like change which is why I haven’t changed her curriculum yet, but she grudgingly agreed to use the internet textbook.  And, really, it’s for PWM’s and my sanity as much as Rosie Girl’s education!!

That’s what’s up with us! How was your week??  Check out Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers to see how others fared this week!

Friday, January 07, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday – 1/7/2011


1. Cotton Bowl!!  LSU vs. Texas A&M!!  So far, I’m not real thrilled.

2. I quit the elimination diet after 5 days.  Not only did I have worse-than-usual headaches the whole time, but I was getting terribly depressed (i.e. much crying, etc.).  I suspect that my normal diet has more tryptophan which keeps my serotonin level (along with my anti-depressant) reasonably stable.  After two days of my normal, reasonably healthy, diet, I’m feeling much better in terms of mood and headaches.

3. Rosie Girl got her temps (learner’s driving permit) today!!  She was supposed to start driving class on Monday, but there weren’t enough students signed up, so she has to take the class that starts in three weeks.  She went ahead and got her temps today, though, instead of waiting for the first week of class (like most kids do) because she turns 16 in the middle of June and she has to have her temps for six months before she can get her license.  It’s hard to imagine my little girl being able to drive!

4. Wild Man is at our church’s district youth conference.  He was sooooooo excited about being able to go!  Of course, as his mom, I was a little distressed by the lack of socks and undergarments that he packed, but we took care of it.  He’ll be back on Sunday – and I’m betting that he’s going to sleep very, very well!

5. I had a flat tire today after I dropped Wild Man at church.  When it was 10 degrees outside.  Thankfully, PWM had been at church, as well, so he came to help me (i.e fix the tire).  Unfortunately, the spare is in a strange place in the van and it was stuck in place (hadn’t been replaced properly).  We drove the other car to pick up some of those cans that you can use to partially reinflate a tire and PWM got the tire in condition to drive to a gas station and completely reinflate it.  The van needs to have an oil change, anyway, so we’ll get the tires looked at too.  Poor PWM, though, was really cold.

6. I’m reading The Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight and loving it.  It’s about reading the Bible as story.  I’ve, of course, also got several books checked out from the library.  I’ll try to review them in a somewhat timely fashion (yeah, right!).

7. PWM and I watched “Expelled” last night.  I really enjoy documentary films, but I didn’t like this one at all.  It was so obviously propaganda, particularly with all the images meant to evoke the Nazis.  Not only that, but it did not stick with it’s topic.  It started with the exploration of academic freedom, but then became a discussion of the viability of Darwinian evolution.  They film asserted that an acceptance of evolution leads to atheism, a position with which I disagree.  As does the Biologos foundation.

Check out 7 Quick Takes Friday to see what others are saying!

Knitting Update – 1/7/2011

Now that Christmas is over and everyone has opened their gifts, I can show what I’ve been working on for the last few months.


1. For my mom, I did a Mobius shawl with a fringe out of a really nice wool/silk fingering weight yarn.


2. For my sister-in-law, I made the same shawl, but in a different color and with beads on the edge instead of a fringe.


3. For my dad and brother, I made some basic gloves in DK wool using a pattern from the American Red Cross Production Corps, a section of the Red Cross that, during World War II, provided yarn and patterns for folks at home to make gloves, socks, hats, and vests for servicemen.


4. For my 3 year old nephew, I made a set of hand puppets using a kit from KnitPicks.  The kit actually made 6 puppets, but I only did 4.


5. For my 8 year old nephew, I made a set of 4 juggling balls.  I just made a cube out of three different colors and filled them with plastic pellets.  In addition, Rosie Girl let me videotape her giving instructions for how to juggle and we made a DVD to send with the juggling balls.


6. It wasn’t a Christmas present, but I made stockings for me and PWM since our other ones are rather cheap ones and don’t have any sentimental value.  This was my first time doing colorwork, and I LOVED it!


7.  Again, not Christmas gifts, but these are some pictures of hats made for a friend who lost her hair from chemo.  (Rosie Girl is the model for the pink cloche.)


8. With my extra DK weight yarn, I made myself a pair of socks – using a “pattern” I made up on the fly.  I’m pretty proud of myself!



I also made a pair of socks for PWM, but didn’t take a picture of them.  Sorry.

What crafty things have you been up to?  Leave me a comment and link!




Saturday, January 01, 2011

Book Reviews – 1/1/2001

What better way to start the year than with book reviews?  Hope you enjoy!

Forbidden Fruit: Sex and Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers by Mark Regnerus – I loved this book.  Of course, it says something about my my academic background that I enjoy reading books about sociology.  I am fascinated by this topic, especially since I used to have a number of young women in my practice whom I was treating for sexually transmitted infections and whose babies I delivered.  I really want my own kids to delay sex until marriage for medical as well as religious reasons.  I’ve seen the devastation that early and frequent sexual activity can wreak.  But, is the Church being effective in helping our teens make good choices?  This book tried to answer this question, among others.  The author showed that abstinence pledging by teens, despite being a sacred cow of Evangelicals, is simply not very effective.  It appears that the teens who are least likely to be sexually active and to have fewer partners are those with high personal religiosity levels.  It appears that the “programmatic” approach to the problem of teen pregnancy taken by many churches has failed us.  So, what is the answer?  There’s not a simple one, but we need to get past the naivete of thinking that kids who are involved in youth groups will automatically “wait for marriage”.  Our churches and families would do much better to focus more on helping our teens develop a closer walk with Jesus with less focus on “good behavior”.  A

The Victims Return: Survivors of the Gulag Return after Stalin – by Stephen Cohen – Millions of people were sent to the “Gulag Archipelago”, a network of prison/work camps scattered across Siberia, during the reign of Josef Stalin.  Many of them died, but many returned home to try to reintegrate into Soviet society.  I read this book knowing almost nothing about the USSR after Stalin, so it was highly educational on that front.  What made it a good read, though, was the stories.  The author writes about a variety of people who were in the Gulag for varying amounts of time, but focuses on their life after the Gulag.  They had to deal with the memories of the Gulag, but also with fitting into a society that was changing.  Definitely worth reading.  A

The Whale Rider by Witi Tame Ihimaera – I had heard of the movie, “The Whale Rider”, but didn’t know much about it.  When Wild Man was studying Australia and New Zealand, we needed another read-aloud, so I chose this.  And I’m very glad I did.  The whole family enjoyed the story of the girl who was not loved by her grandfather because she wasn’t a boy.  By the end of the book, though, the girl has shown that she is the next “Whale Rider”.  A

The American Evangelical Story by Douglas Sweeney – This was a good overview of the history of Evangelicals in America.  It was very good to see how the Evangelical denominations shaped and were shaped by the development of this country.  Definitely a good read, especially if you enjoy social history.  A

Jesus Freaks: A True Story of Murder and Madness on the Evangelical Edge by Don Lattin – I was looking up the Jesus Freaks book by D.C. Talk, but this one came up in the list.  I just couldn’t resist checking it out.  It’s a true story about a cult that is only tangentially related to Christianity.  It was a pretty good book.  B

Jane Austen in Scarsdale by Paula Cohen – This story takes the general plot of Persuasion by Jane Austen and transposes the story to Scarsdale, NY.  The main character is a guidance counselor in a high school in an affluent area who is constantly dealing with difficult parents and anxious students as she tries to help her students navigate the college admission process.  The real fun begins when her ex-boyfriend moves into town with his sister and her son, who is a high school student.  And, if you’re a Jane Austen fan, you know where the plot goes from there.  Yes, it’s formula, but it’s a nice, pleasant read.  B

Poison: A Novel of the Renaissance by Sara Poole – A young woman becomes the “poisoner” to Cardinal Borgia in the days before the pope dies and the Cardinals must go into conclave.  Not only is the poisoner required to protect Borgia during this time, but she also learns a secret about her father that leads her to try to prevent the expulsion of the Jews from the city.  Well-written, intriguing plot.  A

Alone: Orphaned on the Ocean (audio) by Richard Logan – In the early 1960s, the Duperrault family from Green Bay, WI chartered a boat and captain to take a trip through the Bahamas, with the idea of eventually purchasing their own boat.  However, things went terribly wrong.  A few days after the boat was last seen in the Bahamas, the 6 year old daughter was found in the open ocean floating on a styrofoam float.  The girl was terribly dehydrated and required hospitalization.  The story that she told while in the hospital was one of murder and her desperate struggle to survive.  The perpetrator, the boat captain, answered an inquiry about the loss of a boat, but then committed suicide, apparently because the little girl survived.  This story tells not only about the 6 year old girl, Tere, but also the family and the boat captain.  Absolutely fascinating.  A

The Spellmans Strike Again by Lisa Lutz – I just love the Spellman series by Lisa Lutz.  In this installment, Izzy Spellman is taking over the family business, but also trying to put up with a series of blind dates set up by her mother, dealing with phone calls from her favorite octogenarian from Florida, and asking the family why random bits of the house (like door knobs) keep disappearing.  It’s another hilarious and funny installment.  Definitely read it!  (Warning: Language alert – Not safe for kids!)  A

From Asparagus to Zucchini – This is a cookbook produced by the Madison Area CSA Coalition.  It’s an alphabetic listing of the veggies that are likely to show up in your CSA bag along with suggestions on how to store, clean, and cook them.  I highly recommend it.  A

So, go check out a book from the library and get reading!

A New Year, A New Headache Plan

With the start of a new year, I’ve decided to try something else to try to decrease these headaches.  I’m going on a significant elimination diet.  I’ve tried gluten-free, no MSG, and no chocolate or caffeine diets separately without success.  However, it may be that there may be some food items that are “partial” triggers – by themselves they don’t cause a headache, but several of them together can cause headaches.  I already know that multiple triggers are more likely to give me migraines than a single trigger which is what convinced me that this might be helpful.

So, what am I eliminating?  A better question to ask is what am I allowed to eat!  I figure that if foods are causing problems, my headaches should definitely improve with a couple of weeks on this diet.  If that happens, then I have to do the much more complicated task of sorting out which foods are problematic.  Basically, I can have chicken, white rice, apples, grapes, broccoli, carrots, and a few other veggies.  I’ll also be taking a multivitamin.

I think the worst thing on this diet is going to be boredom.  How many different ways can you cook such a limited kinds of food?  And without things like onion, garlic, and soy sauce?  On the up-side, PWM will be taking care of meals for him and the kids.  At least I won’t be trying to cook food that I can’t eat.

So, it could be an interesting few weeks.  I’ll try to keep the whining to a minimum.  Pray for us.  We’re going to need it!

Hello, 2011

Welcome, 2011.  You’ve finally made it here.  Our family said good-bye to 2010 by sitting together in the living room listening to an audiobook.  Not a real big send-off.  I know that I, along with the rest of the family, grew and learned a lot over the course of the year, but I’m happy to have it behind us.

What do you have in store for us, 2011?  There are very few things we can be sure of, and I’ve given up my habit of planning life down to the detail.  Nonetheless, we can expect that Rosie Girl will take Driver’s Ed in the spring so that she can get her driver’s license in the summer when she turns 16.  And we are looking forward to Wild Man becoming a teen-ager.  In the meantime, PWM and I will continue our stroll through our forties.

I’m excited for the new year, really, I am.  Watching Rosie Girl and Wild Man grow up is such an amazing thing!  I’m still praying that God will see fit to take away the headaches.  And, just to make sure we’re covering all the bases, I’ll start the year with a strict “migraine diet”.  (Thankfully, PWM can cook so the rest of the family won’t be subjected to rice, chicken breasts and a few veggies for the first several weeks of the year!)

But, 2011, if you are bringing some surprises, you should know that I’m not going to be alone in tackling them.  Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the earth.”  (I memorized the verse in the KJV while I was in elementary school, and I kind of like how “Lo” sounds.  Very old-fashioned.)  So, 2011, I’m starting the year with the Creator of the Universe with me, the One who “has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of self-discipline.”  Not only that, but PWM and I are as close as two people can be and I have other friends with whom I share my life.  2011, I’m not facing you alone – I have lots of love, support, and help for whatever you are going to bring.

Welcome, 2011.  Let’s make it a great one!